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STL businesses bring back face mask mandates as COVID cases surge

Visitors of the Gateway Arch will have to wear a mask inside starting Monday. City and County Schnucks employees are required to wear masks.

ST. LOUIS — A spike in COVID-19 cases is prompting some businesses and at least one major attraction to bring back mask requirements.

People are turning to at-home rapid tests, which makes tracking the official number of cases tricky. However, doctors are seeing a 20% positivity rate through laboratory tests, which is up from the 3-4% positivity rate a couple of months ago.

That data is prompting some businesses to bring back their indoors masking requirements.

"I'm more disappointed than surprised because I think we could've been beyond this," Luann Harding said.

She and her brother Ignatius Harding were visiting the Arch from out of town and made sure to have their masks on.

"There was a couple of people probably around my age, that have them on. Other than that, I didn't see anybody. I've seen very few people with them on at all. I've been here two days," Luann Harding said.

"It's worrisome. I'm a Franciscan brother, a Franciscan Friar and we've lost 7 of our Friars through COVID and some of them were just by someone being out without a mask and coming home and giving it to everybody else in the house," Ignatius Harding said.

Mercy Hospital Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Farrin Manian confirmed that St. Louis and St. Louis County have entered into the high transmissibility risk zone.

"The percentage has gone up say from 3-4% just a couple of months ago to about 20% now being positive for COVID," Manian said.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force is seeing about 39 new COVID patients each day.

"Boosters are really going to be crucial in terms of preventing or trying to reduce our chance of getting infection and winding up in the hospital," Manian said.

That's why, starting Monday, anyone visiting the Gateway Arch will be required to wear masks inside all park buildings regardless of vaccination status. 

The Foundation made the announcement on their Facebook page.

"I think it's a good idea, for the people to protect themselves but also to protect their neighbors, which is what they're doing with the mask," Luann Harding said.

"I think we should take full protection of everything we can in our disposition and that means masking indoors as well as getting vaccinated and boosted if you're eligible," Manian said.

Schnucks is also reverting back to some masking requirements.

Employees in the City and County and in several Illinois Counties are required to wear face masks, but they are still optional for customers.

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